We Are Westridge
A community blog featuring Head of School Elizabeth J. McGregor, the Westridge Leadership Team, our esteemed faculty members and occasional special guests
Girl Meets World Curriculum Takes Root in the Middle School
By Gigi Bizar, Middle School Cultural Studies Faculty
Last spring I was lucky to attend the Girl Meets World workshop, put on by the Girls Leadership Institute. The workshop was an intensive, three-day training program taught by authors, educators, and girl experts Rachel Simmons and Simone Marean, and “designed to equip participants with the latest research, tools, and interventions to support girls’ social-emotional development. Much of this workshop focused on equipping teachers with strategies for creating a learning environment where girls can be themselves.”
As a teacher of girls, I don’t think anything is more important than fostering an environment where a girl can be herself. Having implemented the Girl Meets World curriculum in my 8th grade Human Development classes this year, already I can see my students’ emotional self-awareness growing in two key areas: conflict resolution and personal agency.
Girls these days are under tremendous cultural, social, and academic pressure, and equipping them with effective conflict-resolution skills that they can put to immediate use in all of their relationships has been remarkable. One of the core tenets of Girl Meets World is that emotional intelligence is critical to a successful relationship. For girls, relationships are what Rachel Simmons calls the fourth “R”. Because girls learn to negotiate, advocate, and compromise through relationships, what they learn in their relationships can be a foundation for their success.
We just did a lesson on “inside feelings” versus “outside feelings,” and the girls learned that sometimes in conflicts, people only show what they are feeling on the outside, like anger, when what they are really feeling is fear. We workshopped how to articulate inside feelings in a conflict, and that seemed to inspire girls to feel empowered to speak their truths in a conflict, rather than cower behind an outside feeling.
Another core value of the curriculum is that a girl’s potential is already in her. In this fast-paced world where girls have to navigate many sound-bites each day about how they should act, it is of vital importance that they remain grounded in their own agency, and in the knowledge that power already lies within them.
I thoroughly enjoyed this vibrant and interactive workshop, and came back to Westridge with a much more thorough understanding of how to counter prevailing cultural pressures by giving girls an opportunity to re-define their notions selfhood and empowering them to meet the world with personal authority and integrity.
- To learn more about Girls Leadership Institute and see if one of their workshops could be for you or your daughter, go to: http://girlsleadership.org/
- To learn more about Rachel Simmons and her work with girls, go to: http://www.rachelsimmons.com/
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